We’ve all seen the large, brightly coloured self storage facilities on the outskirts of our towns and cities and many of us have used them, especially when moving house. However, there is an increasing trend to rent a storage unit as semi-permanent overspill due to lack of storage in our homes, or for those of us regularly moving for jobs and with no permanent roots anywhere yet. But is this really a cost-effective option? Despite enticing introductory discounts they are not always as cheap as they seem.
Despite the popularity of TV shows encouraging us to declutter it is tempting just to store away all our clutter in our own private unit. Self storage is great for bulky furniture items we might want one day when we move to that dream house, or for out-of-season items like garden furniture or sports gear. We also love it for our children’s old toys, games etc. that we can’t bear to part with or inherited items that we don’t want at home but are reluctant to ditch.
In today’s volatile housing market home buyers and sellers can’t always move directly from their old home to the new one so again self storage comes to the rescue when movers need to store their furniture while they rent and wait to find a new home.
Self storage facilities don’t tie you in to long contracts, you can get easy access to your stuff when you want it so what’s not to like?
Well, for a start many of the major players have less than transparent pricing structures. They offer huge headline discounts for short periods but the long term costs can be excessive. They may not tie you in with long contracts but they can, and do, put up their prices with little or no notice.
On the bright side there are now many smaller independent facilities that are offering much lower prices than the national chains, including fixed rates and other benefits such as collection and delivery.
Most of the well-known, national chains of self storage providers are reluctant to appear on price comparison websites where prices and features are clearly compared to independent providers. These smaller companies may not have facilities in your immediate area but they make up for fewer locations by offering significantly lower prices at fixed rates and often free collection too.
And after all, how many of us really want to access our stuff every week or even every month?
Comparing Self Storage Costs
Anyone who’s ever used self storage before knows that the units come in a wide variety of sizes with incrementally higher costs to match. Large units are usually cheaper by the square foot but more expensive in total. It’s a bit of an anomaly that unit sizes are quoted in square feet – maybe a consequence of the self storage industry having started in the US? Who knows?
One of the reasons national chains are reluctant to appear on comparison sites is because of the local variations in prices. It’s obvious that popular locations where they have no problem filling units will always be more expensive than other sites where they have plenty of availability so bear that in mind when comparing prices.
But their reluctance is not just about price variations by locality because even in their cheaper locations their prices tend to be higher than their independent competitors. Many people are paying over the odds for storage and, worse, subject to price hikes with minimal notice.
So if you don’t want to end up paying too much, compare an independent self storage facility with the national chains. Check for fixed price deals, discounts for paying in advance and extras like free van hire or collection. Also remember that units situated outside will be cheaper, as will units on higher floors or further away from lifts or stairs.
It looks like self storage is here to stay for personal and business use – just make sure you have done your homework comparing deals before you sign on the dotted line because there are plenty of cheaper alternatives to the big names.
According to our Price Comparison Table, independent storage facilities could save you more than £6,000 over a year for a large 160 sq ft storage unit compared to national self-storage providers, even taking account of introductory deals. With savings that huge it really pays to shop around.